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Are Welders at Risk for Exposure to Asbestos?

There are several occupations that carry an increased risk of asbestos exposure. The nature of welding makes it more likely for the worker to encounter asbestos. Welders exposed to asbestos may develop mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer infecting the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, or other asbestos-related diseases.

Welders join pieces of metal together by using a welding rod to melt the metal. An electrical charge runs through the rod and creates an arc when it meets a seam in the metal, which heats the metal to the point of liquifying. This process occurs at very high temperatures, which can damage welding rods. Asbestos is strong and fire-resistant, and it was often used to coat welding rods and other high-heat equipment until the 1980s. Many welding rods had a flux coating made up of asbestos, which helped control the molten metal beads. Asbestos may have helped the welding rod stay intact, but the carcinogen itself often did not.

When a welding rod makes contact with metal or steel, the electrical arc gives off sparks and smoke. This can cause the flaky, friable strands that make up asbestos to separate and become airborne. Asbestos dust can also be generated when welders grind down the metal seams to smooth them out. Once the tiny asbestos fibers on the rod become released into the air, they can be inhaled and ingested by workers. When the particles become lodged in the tissue around the lungs, they irritate the surrounding cells and cause deadly respiratory conditions.

History of Asbestos Use

Asbestos was an inexpensive and effective solution to welding dangers, specifically the risk of burns from high heat and the risk of fires from the sparks generated. It became widely used in the 1920s as a coating for welding rods, a component in high-heat equipment, and even as part of the protective gear that welders wore on the job, including welding blankets. By the 1970s, asbestos had been linked to mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other conditions, and its use was widely banned. Welders are not facing the same risk of asbestos exposure today, but for many, the damage may have already been done.

Mesothelioma has a long latency period, meaning that symptoms may not appear for decades after the initial asbestos exposure. Once diagnosed, mesothelioma often leaves patients with painful symptoms and a short life expectancy. Welders work in many different industries, including construction, power plants, aviation, aerospace, automotive, railroad, manufacturing, maritime, oil refineries, and more; some of these industries carry their own risk of asbestos exposure in addition to what welders routinely face. Recent studies report that welders have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases.

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Shein Law Advocate for Welders Diagnosed with Mesothelioma

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, contact the Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine who is at fault for your asbestos exposure and fight for the compensation to which you are entitled. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we help welders throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call us today at 877-743-4652 or contact us online to get started.

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